The State of Things

WUNC's The State of Things brings the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you.  The State of Things Podcast presents new stories every weekday with topics from our show.  To subscribe:

Get a daily show update and special news. Subscribe to our podcast on Google Play or iTunes.  Or, use the links at the right.

Visit the main SOT page.

Film Still: A girl awaits her train on a Tokyo subway platform. Tokyo is home to the world’s busiest metro system, with approximately 8.7 million daily riders.
Patrick Shen and Brandon Vedder

For some, silence is defined as the absence of sound. But a new documentary film, "In Pursuit of Silence," explores the many facets of silence. From religious meditation to the natural world, silence is an integral part of existence. And the noise of modern life may be damaging in physical, mental and emotional ways.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

​North Carolina's House Bill 2 and the state budget dominated the headlines during this year's legislative short session. But the bills that got less attention could also have a huge impact across the state.

One of them places regulations on the footage caught by police body cameras, and declares those tapes are not public records. That same bill also establishes the first statewide needle exchange program.

book cover of "Fight Club 2"
Chuck Palahniuk

The first rule about Fight Club is "you do not talk about Fight Club." But author Chuck Palahniuk is making an exception.

As a sequel to the 1996 novel, Palahniuk is continuing  the story with a new graphic novel "Fight Club 2" (Dark Horse Comics/2016). It's set ten years after the original story, and shows the main character Sebastian refueling his alter ego Tyler Durden and the group Project Mayhem.

An image of Negar Mottahedeh
Golbarg Bashi

It's easy to think of a "selfie" as a narcissistic way to accrue "likes" on social media and  flaunt your latest traveling adventures. But every "selfie" tells a story about the photographer's world.

Negar Mottahedeh, associate professor of literature at Duke University in Durham, says taking a selfie is a humanizing way to document history in the age of social media. In a recent speech at TEDxDurham, Mottahedeh illustrated the ways selfies can be used as tools for protest and citizen journalism.

Image of tools in doctor's office
Morgan / Flickr/Creative Commons

Contrary to popular belief, statistics show that North Carolina does not have a doctor shortage problem; it has a doctor distribution problem.

Experts say the lack of funding for graduate medical education (GME) in rural areas is one reason that those communities have worse health outcomes.

photo of "Asperger's Are Us"
Asperger's Are Us

Asperger’s Are Us’ is a four-member comedy troupe that is quickly gaining national traction. While all four men are on the autism spectrum, their comedy is not all about their condition.

In fact, the group says it has no interest in poking fun at Asperger’s, and the men do not make light of their behavioral differences. They get on stage every night to enjoy one another’s company with the hope that their absurd and satirical sketches will make their audience laugh.

photo of Lar Lubovitch Dance Company
Chris Roesing

Lar Lubovitch is known in the performing art world as a breakthrough choreographer in modern, ballet and jazz dancing.

One of his most heralded works is called "Concerto 622," which depicted two men in a loving relationship for the first time on the modern dance stage. It gave a face to the AIDS crisis in the mid-80s.

Photo of a police officer following the Dallas shooting
AP Photo/LM Otero

Five law enforcement officers were killed last night in Dallas. The murders happened at a protest in response to the killing of two black men this week by law enforcement officers.

On Tuesday, police shot and killed Alton Sterling while they held him down at a convenience store in Baton Rouge, La.

photo of Violet Bell
Lizzy Ross

After spending four years making music in Nashville, singer-songwriter Lizzy Ross began to feel homesick.

Ross grew up in North Carolina, went to UNC-Chapel Hill and started her career in the Triangle music scene. While Nashville was filled with passionate and impressive musicians, she missed being part of a community that she felt really embraced diverse creative expressions.

Book cover of "Magic in Islam"
Michael Muhammad Knight

People of faith will argue that magic and religion are not the same thing; magic is often condemned as dark and unsacred, while religion is characterized as morally sound and pure. In his new book “Magic in Islam” (Tarcher Perigee/2016), Michael Muhammad Knight resists the notion that the two are incompatible.

He argues that through looking at the histories of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, it is clear that the boundary between magic and religion has been blurred time and time again. He looks at examples including the use and interpretation of the Quran, astrology, and mythological figures of multiple religions.

Performance Psychologist Meghan Halbrook of Fort Bragg’s Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Center shows a soldier how to use an ear sensor to monitor his stress level as he rests between sessions of machine gun training.
Jay Price / WUNC

With biofeedback, breath control, and other mindfulness techniques, an Army unit hopes to help turn its paratroopers into more effective fighters.

North Carolina State Legislature
Dave Crosby / Flickr

More than half of the state budget is spent on public education.

In the latest budget adjustments, state lawmakers approved an average 4.7 percent raise for teachers.

photo of Joseph R. Winters
Joseph Winters

For some, the election of America's first black president marked the victory of a long-fought struggle for racial equality.

State Senator Tom Apodaca
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The General Assembly adjourned late Friday and lawmakers headed home.

They passed a $22.3 billion budget before they left, giving state employees a small raise and setting aside more money for the rainy day fund. They also made a small tweak to House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill.

photo of Alexis Pauline Gumbs, her nephew, and stepsister
Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Some scholars are criticized for staying within the ‘ivory tower,’ and creating work that’s only accessible to a highly-academic audience. Alexis Pauline Gumbs does not receive that criticism.

She identifies as a community-accountable scholar and puts that identity into practice by intentionally bringing scholarly ideas into non-academic settings. This manifests in online educational projects like ‘Eternal Summer of The Black Feminist Mind,’ which creates accessible curricula from black feminist work.

Travis Mulhauser

Note: this program is a rebroadcast.

For a number of years, there was one particular image that continued to haunt Travis Mulhauser: a young girl in a hooded sweatshirt who comes across an abandoned baby. He eventually decided to let his imagination play out her story, and it resulted in his debut novel “Sweetgirl” (Harper Collins/2016). The book follows 16-year-old Percy James, whose search for her mother in the dead of winter takes her on an unexpected journey.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

The United States Supreme Court issued decisions this week in several high profile cases related to abortion restrictions and immigration regulations.

The high court also agreed to hear North Carolina's redistricting suit. Their decisions could affect voters in November.

Photo of Dominique Witten
Dominique Witten

Comedian Dominique has performed alongside Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock, and Dave Chappelle. But she says her comedic inspiration doesn’t come from these comedy all-stars, it comes from her mother.

She was raised by a straightforward woman who encouraged her to ‘tell the truth’ and ‘call it as you see it,’ and that’s exactly what she does on stage.She has appeared on HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam,” was a finalist in last year’s “Last Comic Standing,” and currently stars in the hit TV series “Black Jesus” on Adult Swim.

photo of Kathy Mattea
Arlin Geyer/Warren Wilson College

For the last 25 years, the Swannanoa Gathering has brought thousands of people from across the world to experience the old-time musical traditions of Appalachia.

The five-week program features workshops in traditional folk, guitar composition and Celtic music and includes instruction from Grammy award-winning musicians like Janis Ian and Tom Paxton.

Photo: North Carolina's Old State Capitol building.
Soggy6 / Flickr

Lawmakers convened in Raleigh nearly a month ago for a short session to address the state's budget. But legislators have proposed measures on other items including bills on coal ash, light rail and sanctuary cities.

Also this week, Senator Fletcher Hartsell, a Republican from Concord, was indicted on charges of illegal campaign expenditures. The long-serving member in the Senate says he will not resign.

Photo of a ball and chain with "student loans" written on it
thisisbossi / Flickr

Forty-two million people in the United States owe $1.3 trillion in student debt, according to a recent report from Reveal radio program in conjunction with the Center for Investigative Reporting.

In 2014 in North Carolina, 61 percent of students graduating from public and private four-year institutions graduated with loans amounting to an average of $25,000 per individual, according to The Project on Student Debt. The privatization of Sallie Mae and the continued disinvestment in public higher education at the state level contribute to the problem.

Mugshot photos of Leah Hendershot and Anca Stefan
Leah Hendershot/Anca Stefan

Earlier this month, 14 public school teachers were arrested outside of Gov. Pat McCrory's office after they linked arms and blocked a downtown Raleigh intersection. The demonstration was a response to what the teachers say is a lack of funding for North Carolina's public schools.

In the days since the protest, teachers have posted their mugshots to social media along with their reasons for demonstrating. One teacher wrote, "I've taught World and U.S. history without a textbook for the past four years." Those posts have gone viral.

Frank Taylor / Carolina Public Press

A private company that owns mental health care facilities in western North Carolina is coming under fire for its treatment record and its insensitive corporation name: Nutz R Us.

One family tells the Carolina Public Press that it had little control over their son's placement in a Nutz R Us facility because a private guardianship company was making his treatment decisions. The CPP investigation found the state has little oversight of the industry.

An image of Durham-based music producer 9th Wonder
Creative Silence

 

Between the beats and rhymes of every hip-hop song is a story. A rapper catches a snapshot of their experiences with the lyrics. Meanwhile, the DJ or producer often samples older songs for the beat, in turn creating a lineage of music.

photo of Steve Michell, Tom Campbell, Sarah Goddin, Linda-Marie Barrett and Erica Eisdorfer
Courtesy of Deonna Kelli Sayed/Jon Mayes/Lance Richardson

Summer is the time of year when vacationers look for good books to take to the beach or their backyard hammocks.

These books can be the ones that are light, frivolous and enjoyable, or simply the ones that you never had the chance to finish before.

Pages